An­drew Simp­son

Not every ma­rina seems glad to see us – at least they don’t al­ways act as if they are

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents -

In my jour­nal­is­tic ca­pac­ity I prob­a­bly get to visit more than the av­er­age num­ber of mari­nas – each one of which leaves its own im­pres­sion. And here I’m not talk­ing about the fa­cil­i­ties which, although vari­able from swanky to run­down, are nearly all ad­e­quate and can al­most al­ways be borne at a pinch. In­deed, many mari­nas have the same­ness of fran­chised mo­tels – you’ve seen one, you’ve seen... well, many.

Yet there are some is­sues that reg­u­larly raise ire. The ablu­tion­ary pro­vi­sions for in­stance. Which of us has not re­joiced in the imp­ish caprices of the ma­rina shower block? The spir­it­less trickle from the shower, the de­monic ther­mo­stat that al­ter­nately scalds and chills – all add their zest to the spirit of a run ashore. My own favourite is the wa­ter dis­pens­ing, and pre­sum­ably en­ergy sav­ing time clock, set to fast for­ward so it catches you a coun­try mile short of a de­cent rinse. All jolly good fun when you’re in the right mood and hi­lar­i­ous when re­lated in the bar. But no more than a glitch in the over­all scheme of things.

No, what ex­er­cise me the most are the hu­man in­ter­ac­tions. These can range from friendly and help­ful to down­right hos­tile.

At my rec­om­men­da­tion, a friend of mine ar­ranged to leave his boat for a few weeks at a yacht club ma­rina and was treated so con­temp­tu­ously by the staff that he en­tirely re­versed his plans to seek mem­ber­ship. As an ac­com­plished pro­fes­sional, he was un­ac­cus­tomed to re­ceiv­ing dis­dain, and cer­tainly saw no rea­son to pay for it when in pur­suit of his own rest and recre­ation. His protests were re­ceived with lit­tle sym­pa­thy, so he left, never to re­turn. For him this is an in­ci­dent now well astern, but still re­mem­bered with­out the least plea­sure.

What­ever the de­tails, it re­mains un­for­tu­nate that the club’s gen­uinely de­served rep­u­ta­tion for the hospi­tal­ity it usu­ally ex­tends to vis­it­ing sailors was, on this oc­ca­sion, de­stroyed by boor­ish and insen­si­tive hired hands, each with a vaunted sense of their own im­por­tance.

It’s when you ask them for some­thing out of the or­di­nary that a ma­rina’s true colours are re­vealed. In my ex­pe­ri­ence there are three clas­sic re­sponses: can do, can’t do, and could do but won’t. The first pour sun­light on any sit­u­a­tion; the sec­ond and third are about as quench­ing as a win­ter down­pour.

A good ex­am­ple of the first cat­e­gory arose a few years ago, when a set of bunk cush­ions were be­ing de­liv­ered for Shindig and we were faced with get­ting them out to our trot moor­ing on the River Ta­mar.

Chele phoned Mayflower Ma­rina. Would they be kind enough to re­ceive them, so we could come along­side and col­lect them? ‘Be a plea­sure,’ they re­sponded. It might be for a week or so – would that be a prob­lem? ‘None what­so­ever,’ they said.

And so it was that we turned up ten days later and lay against the outer arm of the har­bour just long enough to scoop them up. We paid the stan­dard charge for our time along­side, with a con­tri­bu­tion into the RNLI’s col­lec­tion box be­ing sug­gested as an ap­pro­pri­ate re­ward for the con­sid­er­able favour they had done us. Nice one, Mayflower, and of course our thanks.

Fair-weather of­fer

Con­trast that with an­other ma­rina, which I hailed on Ch37 as we ap­proached. ‘Take the berth by the rub­bish skips I was told. ‘It’s a bit tight get­ting in there, so I’ll come down and take your lines.’

I warmed to his of­fer. What a nice place it seemed to be. We ar­rived un­event­fully, but when we swung into the as­signed slot there was no sign of berth con­trol.

Once se­cured, I trot­ted off to find him. ‘Yeah, sorry about that,’ he said, ‘but it started to rain, and I thought bet­ter of it.’

What seems some­times to be for­got­ten is that we sail for plea­sure. All sailors know there will be suf­fer­ing along the way – the weather alone will see to that – but that’s part of the chal­lenge and must be en­dured.

What’s not en­durable is the quite un­nec­es­sary ag­gra­va­tion that some of the sup­port busi­nesses can bring. If I go into a pub or restau­rant and get rude or surly ser­vice I don’t go back. And nei­ther should we to any place that treats us shab­bily.

‘In my ex­pe­ri­ence there are three clas­sic re­sponses: can do, can’t do, and could do but won’t’

Mari­nas... where would be with­out them?

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